November 16, 2012

Highlights from Unity Days events around Illinois

Across Illinois this week, AFSCME members made a public show of force at Unity Days events to send a clear message: State workers are ready to fight for a fair contract.

Across Illinois this week, AFSCME members made a public show of force at Unity Days events to send a clear message: State workers are ready to fight for a fair contract.

Unity Days events took many forms, including marches, informational pickets and silent protests, featuring members showing off green shirts, balloons, wristbands and even car flags.

Local 1753 members at the Illinois Youth Center in Joliet began their day of unity and solidarity at 5 a.m. by marching in to the facility together-- an action that continued on each shift. Sixty Local 386 members at Madden Mental Health Center took to the streets, standing on the corner, wearing green, chanting, and waving at passing cars.

At the Decatur Correctional Center, Local 632's Unity Days kicked off at 6 a.m. on Tuesday with workers wearing wristbands and jamming the parking lot with cars sporting green flags. Activities continued throughout the day, leading up to an outdoor union meeting of members that the prison's warden attempted to move - without success.

As clocks hit noon In Chicago, about 60 AFSCME members from Local 2081 began pouring out of their building downtown. In a silent show of solidarity, members gathered at a street corner, holding up signs that won supportive honks from passing drivers.

More than 1,100 Local 2600 members took action in and around Springfield at more than a dozen worksites. The show of solidarity included 50 who picketed outside a call center while 30 inside put their phones on hold and stood together in silence, with signs raised above their heads.

These demonstrations of unity were just a few of hundreds held at state worksites this week.

At 42 worksites in and around Moline, AFSCME Local 2615 members made a strong show of unity while they worked, wearing green wristbands. At Dixon Correctional Facility, dozens of Local 817 members coming in for their shift held a "march-in" to show their unity. Several hundred Department of Revenue workers from Local 997 held a "rally at the rail," shaking things up in their Springfield office building, while in Manteno, over 125 Local 1563 members held a rally outside a State Veterans Home.

At Stateville CC, more than 300 Local 1866 members turned out for a Unity Days event that won coverage from local media and support from newly-elected members of the Will County Board.

More than 150 Local 1787 members turned out for Unity Day informational pickets that were reported in the local paper in Quincy. Also holding informational pickets were Local 1038 members in Chicago, who drew support from Teamster drivers, and Locals 1928 and 1133, which combined forces and drew support from younger members.

In Kankakee, 225 Local 29 members from the Shapiro Developmental Center held an energetic rally that drew attention from the local paper and radio station. Members lined up in front of the facility with spirited chanting. The rally drew many new activists.

Also in Kankakee, Local 2794 members organized a parade of 30 cars on Wednesday with some 125 members participating.  They drew support from the community, other unions and elected officials.  Local 2794 also held spirited events at a number of other locations, including Ottawa and Aurora, where employees were met with a positive response from the public - several drivers pulled over to talk while others honked their horns in support.

Unity Days also saw plenty of AFSCME members saying "Count Me In!" by signing cards signaling they're ready to actively fight for a fair contract. Amid wristbands and painted car windows, members of Local 472 signed cards. Department of Veterans Affairs workers from Local 3693 also declared they were ready to fight.

Department of Corrections workers held some of the largest and most spirited Unity Days events, including enthusiastic gatherings and "march-ins" at the Southwest Illinois Correctional Center (Local 3654), Jacksonville Correctional Center (Local 3549) and Graham Correctional Center (Local 2856).

Some AFSCME members also had fun showing their solidarity. Local 1805 saw strong turnout and also held a "green luncheon" that awarded a prize to the member wearing the most green.  At the Lawrence Correctional Center, some members of Local 3600 sprayed their hair green.

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